1. “Robert Drew, Cinema Verite Documentarian, Dies at 90.” His son Thatcher Drew confirmed he died on Wednesday at his home in Sharon, Connecticut.
“Filmmaker Robert Drew, a pioneer of the modern documentary who in Primary and other movies mastered the intimate, spontaneous style known as cinema verite and schooled a generation of influential directors that included D.A. Pennebaker and Albert Maysles, has died at age 90. His son Thatcher Drew confirmed he died Wednesday at his home in Sharon, Connecticut. Starting in 1960 with Primary, Mr. Drew produced and sometimes directed a series of television documentaries that took advantage of such innovations as light hand-held cameras that recorded sound and pictures. With filmmakers newly unburdened, nonfiction movies no longer had to be carefully staged and awkwardly narrated. Directors could work more like journalists, following their subjects for hours and days at a time and capturing revealing moments.”
2. “Love Female-Driven Movies? Stop Supporting Bad Ones Like Lucy.” Amy Nicholson asks us to take our enthusiasm for the Luc Besson film down a notch.
“You’d never call a male character a Strong Male Character. But replace female with male and the difference is clear: it’s the gulf between Michael Corleone and any role played by Steven Seagal. Can’t even tell Steven Seagal movies apart? That’s why. And for actresses, it’s the Grand Canyon between dimensional women like Mildred Pierce and the grim-faced Furies of modern Hollywood: Lucy, Maleficent, and even highbrow bores like Jessica Chastain’s Maya in Zero Dark Thirty. (Not to mention the seventh-billed actresses forced to play The Badass Girl in disposable action flicks.) These female roles aren’t well-rounded. They’re linear machines, and instead of describing who they are, we can only describe what they want: to punish the bad guys, to crush the king, to destroy Al Qaeda. And they’re not active—they’re reactive, each existing only to get unsmiling revenge on the man or group of men who’ve done them wrong.”
3. “Gaza and the Loss of Civilization.” Brian Eno writes David Byrne a letter.
“The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered? How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word ’America’? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?”
4. “What Happened to Original Movies Aimed at Adults?” Richard Brody ponders the question.
“The often-told story of the rise of the auteur is the discovery that artists—headed by Hitchcock, the master showman—lurked within the most mercantile provinces of Hollywood. And so they did; for that matter, they didn’t need young French critics to tell them that they were good. But once word got out, self-consciousness set in. The New Wave filmmakers worked within the mainstream of their national film industry (in fact, taking the place of the old guard, exactly as they had intended) without for a moment sacrificing their individuality to the system, just as the New Hollywood filmmakers did a decade later. Both the French and the American generations were glorious anachronisms from the very start, fulfilling and perpetuating classical artistic ideals in places that could hardly sustain them. The mainstream French film industry is, for the most part, kept going artificially, through a complex system of direct and indirect subsidies. Hollywood remains a business. The commercial realm places even less value on Hitchcockian-type imagination than the classic studios did, but the artistic realm of filmmaking now allows creators extraordinary freedom, even if it turns each new production into an uphill battle to exist. For the exceptional filmmaker, each film is an exception, each success a happy accident. It’s only the unflagging enthusiasm of independent producers, cinematic Medicis, that provides any sense of continuity, of normalcy. The big difference now, in other words, is that the gap between great and moderate success has grown. The authorial filmmaker is less likely to make a killing, and is fortunate to make a steady living. The diversified field of cinematic and paracinematic activities that Spike Lee works in seems likely to be the way of the future.”
5. “Full Bloom.” The complicated, endearing maturity of Blossom. Yes, Blossom.
“It’s still rare for sitcoms, even the good ones, to embrace ambiguity. But in episode after episode, Blossom ends where other shows would include one more clarifying beat. In the first episode of the second season, Blossom narrates a long story to her diary about the question of whether she went to second base with a boy named Jimmy. At the end of the episode, Blossom realizes that if she writes down what happened—whether she got to second base or not—it won’t be private. So she doesn’t. We never find out. In another episode, Blossom gets tricked into going to a dance with a geek. Worried about her social capital, she lies that she can’t go, and then feels so horrible about it she changes her mind. On a different show, her guilt would exonerate her, they’d go to the dance, and he might even turn out to be cute. On Blossom, the geek isn’t having it. ’Are you suffering from the delusion that you’re super cool?’ he asks. The episode ends with her confessing her guilt to her father, who reassures her that’s what makes her a good person: ’It’s a good sign you feel bad, it means you’re a good person. Really good people are miserable all the time,’ he says.”
Video of the Day: “Godfather of makeup” Dick Smith is dead at 92:
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